By Arab News
By Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami*
Although Lebanon is a small state in terms of its geography and population, it has a reputation in the Middle East for being a theater of war. This is due to the fact that many regional countries have settled their own conflicts and disagreements there via proxies.
Those acquainted with Lebanon’s history will understand the tensions and bloodshed that it has endured in the past. Despite these dark clouds, which have tainted Lebanon’s history, it has apparently not learned any lessons from these traumatic experiences, nor has it sought to avoid involvement in external conflicts.
The striking reality is that Hezbollah is leading their youth to their deaths in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The group, backed by the Iranian regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), has adeptly exploited the desperation of the Lebanese youth and turned them into dispensable drug mules to supply and smuggle narcotics. The IRGC has trained them to be fighters in militias and to engage in criminal activities, such as kidnapping, theft and murder. In addition, the IRGC has implanted sectarian identities in the minds of these youths, leading to intensifying sectarian tensions and widening fault lines in Lebanese society.
Don’t the Lebanese people wonder about the reasons why tens of thousands of their young people are being thrown into the Syrian inferno, resulting in the death of more than 1,000 young Lebanese men in battles they have nothing to do with? Shouldn’t the honorable Lebanese people question the reasons behind the engagement of their youth in fighting in Yemen or Iraq?
Isn’t it considered worthy of public complaint in Lebanon that domestic groups and foreign powers are allowed to exploit the Lebanese youth, involving them in sectarian conflicts and transnational political projects that the Lebanese people have nothing to do with, therefore wrecking their future as well as their contribution toward building a flourishing, stable nation?
Equally important, what about the agreements signed by Lebanon’s leaders on behalf of the Lebanese people, which oblige all parties to lay down their arms as a way of achieving their legitimate objective of limiting weapons in the hands of the government?
We are currently living in the era of the modern nation state, where empty heroic slogans have no place in political discourse and governance. Also, there is no possibility to hide from or to evade this truth, even if some people attempt to by misleading the public by playing on emotions and focusing on marginal issues that have nothing to do with the core problems Lebanon is facing.
In Lebanon, we are dealing with a state that has been hijacked by Iran to serve its political and nationalist projects and interests. Tehran has installed loyalist leaders in power to implement its projects, paying no heed to the interests of the country and region or to the interests of the Lebanese people at home and abroad.
Let us be more candid and transparent about this issue. Let every single Lebanese citizen ask themselves what Iran has offered their country, except for death, destruction and an escalation of security and sectarian tensions, thrusting divisions in Lebanese society to the surface. How many young Lebanese searching for decent jobs have found them in Iran? What is the volume of Lebanese exports to Iran? How much money, if any, can Lebanese citizens working in Iran remit to their homeland to revitalize its national economy? And what are the Lebanese differences that Iran has managed to settle?
Those defending Hezbollah by whatever justifications they can think of to convince the Lebanese mind that it works in Lebanon’s interests have been let down by the secretary-general of Hezbollah himself, Hassan Nasrallah, when he said: “The leader of our camp today is the Supreme Leader (Ali Khamenei) and its center is the Islamic Republic of Iran.” This statement is clear proof that Nasrallah is working for Iran in Lebanon and not for Lebanon’s national interests.
If Nasrallah is, as he freely admits, nothing but a soldier in Khamenei’s army, what results are the Lebanese people and government expecting and awaiting apart from more destruction and Lebanon’s involvement in reckless misadventures to serve Iranian projects that have nothing to do with Lebanese and Arab interests?
The painful reality is that Nasrallah, on Tehran’s directives, is setting the scene to catapult Lebanon into a new armed conflict with Israel to achieve many objectives, all of which only serve the Iranian regime. The consequences of this clash will be far more devastating than those of 2006. Will Lebanon be able to endure this?
It is time for the Gulf states to be more candid toward Lebanon and assert that they will not pay a single dollar for future Lebanese reconstruction projects, as they have done in the past, if it continues down this destructive path by allowing Hezbollah to direct Lebanese policies based on Iranian directives.
- Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami